ISL club Bengaluru FC‘s star Australian recruit Erik Paartalu on Friday slammed his government’s move to ban all flights from the coronavirus-ravaged India and hoped the authorities are not able to implement the decision. The Australian government this week banned all flights from the pandemic-ravaged India until May 15, leaving many of its citizens, including sportspersons such as Paartalu and former cricketer Paul Reiffel, stranded. “As an Aussie that has lived and worked in India for 4 years now I have never felt so far away from feeling Australian. I don’t know how you can deny citizens to return home especially when there are hotel quarantines in place,” Paartalu tweeted. “I have worked inside a bubble for 7 months here in India and this is a huge blow to mine and thousands of others trying to get back to Australia. I hope the government aren’t able to implement what they are trying to do.”
Paartalu, 34, is part of BFC’s squad for their ongoing AFC Cup campaign.
“I understand everyone’s concern with the level of infection over here and the possibility of a new variant. But isn’t that the purpose of hotel quarantine for 14 days? Love to all those affected and hope this situation has a good outcome for all the Aussies here in India,” he wrote on his Twitter page.
On Thursday, Reiffel’s attempts at leaving for Australia hit a dead end because of his country’s suspension of air travel with India.
Reiffel is in India to officiate in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).
The Australian government’s imposition of the travel ban on flights to and from India in the wake of the rising COVID-19 cases here led to Reiffel being unable to leave the bio-bubble after initial information suggested that he has made the move.
On Monday, IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Australian bowlers Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson and Andrew Tye of Rajasthan Royals withdrew from the remainder of the IPL as they feared getting “locked out” of their own country.
The Australian government recently made it clear that no exception will be made as far the return of its cricketers from the IPL are concerned, but the BCCI assured the players that it will be taken care of.
Earlier in the day, 9News Australia reported that its citizens returning from India right now will be threatened with five years imprisonment.
“For the first time in our history, it will be a criminal offence for some Australians to come home from overseas,” an anchor of 9News Australia said.
“Within the next 48 hours returning citizens will be threatened with five years jail if they’ve been in India in the past two weeks,” he added.
Paartalu is an Australian professional footballer of Estonian descent who plays as a midfielder in Bengaluru FC.
Prior to coming to India, he had had successful stints in South Korea, Qatar, Scotland, China, Thailand besides Australia.